The Sea Fairies
3. The Depths Of The Deep Blue Sea
Cap'n Bill stood up in the boat as if undecided what to do. Never a sailor man was more
bewildered than this old fellow by the strangeness of the adventure he had encountered.
At first he could hardly believe it was all true and that he was not dreaming; but there was
Trot in the water, laughing with the mermaids and floating comfortably about, and he
couldn't leave his dear little companion to make the trip to the depths of the ocean alone.
"Take my hand, please, Cap'n Bill," said Princess Clia, reaching her dainty arm toward
him; and suddenly the old man took courage and clasped the soft fingers in his own. He
had to lean over the boat to do this, and then there came a queer lightness to his legs and
he had a great longing to be in the water. So he gave a flop and flopped in beside Trot,
where he found himself comfortable enough, but somewhat frightened.
"Law sakes!" he gasped. "Here's me in the water with my rheumatics! I'll be that stiff
termorrer I can't wiggle."
"You're wigglin' all right now," observed Trot. "That's a fine tail you've got, Cap'n, an' its
green scales is jus' beautiful."
"Are they green, eh?" he asked, twisting around to try to see them.
"Green as em'ralds, Cap'n. How do they feel?"
"Feel, Trot, feel? Why, this tail beats that ol' wooden leg all holler! I kin do stunts now
that I couldn't o' done in a thousand years with ol' peg."
"And don't be afraid of the rheumatism," advised the Princess. "No mermaid ever catches
cold or suffers pain in the water."
"Is Cap'n Bill a mermaid now?" asked Trot.
"Why, he's a merMAN, I suppose," laughed the pretty princess. "But when he gets home,
he will be just Cap'n Bill again."
"Wooden leg an' all?" inquired the child.
"To be sure, my dear."
The sailor was now trying his newly discovered power of swimming, and became
astonished at the feats he could accomplish. He could dart this way and that with
wonderful speed, and turn and dive, and caper about in the water far better than he had
ever been able to do on land--even before he got the wooden leg. And a curious thing
about this present experience was that the water did not cling to him and wet him as it
had always done before. He still wore his flannel shirt and pea jacket and his sailor cap;